Wednesday, April 12, 2006

return of the kinglets

It's a warm, windy evening here. I was looking forward to maybe doing some gardening, but I do not like working in wind. Before sunset I'll at least walk down and see if the greens seeds I planted need any water, and maybe after dinner I'll start some more tomatoes and other seeds indoors. But wind and me just do not get along.

As we were migrating to the cook shed to start dinner (grilled mahi mahi from the freezer, organic brown rice, and broccoli) The Hermit asked me about a bird song he hadn't noticed before and didn't remember. I looked up just in time to see a ruby crowned kinglet presenting itself obviously; its crown was fully exposed and glowing ruby in the evening sun. I remembered posting about them a year ago (well, April 18th), noting their precisely phrased, melodic song. There was a whole flock of them, flitting among the growing buds in the aspen trees. I tried to take a picture, but even with 12x optical zoom it's hard to capture something so tiny, and so active.

I have now gone through my annual frog song re-education. It should be simple, we only have four or five species of frogs here, but it seems I can never remember which is the Western Chorus frog (think running your thumb along a comb) or a green frog (loose banjo string) or a wood frog (resembles a fragmented duck quack). The chorus frogs tend to inhabit the roadside wetlands, while the wood frogs are in the bog near the house. There are not too many green frogs around here, but spring peepers are everywhere, and loud. Toads and tree frogs won't chime in for a week or two. I learned today that chorus frogs are indeed "explosive" breeders, taking advantage of the first available conditions to complete their annual orgy. We also have leopard frogs, but they seem to be quieter and more difficult to distinguish.

A single blue winged teal was on the pond yesterday evening, and I heard a woodcock and a Wilson's snipe at about 4 am, displaying in the near-full moon. Spring is good.

8 comments:

Endment said...

Aren't the kinglets beautiful? I spent quite a bit of time chasing them with my camera today--- a couple of blurs is all I collected but it was fun watching them.

clairesgarden said...

how do you identify something from its song? there must be dvd's or something you can get?

Liz said...

I know my peepers, green frogs and gray treefrogs, but didn't know that the wood frog was the one I was hearing but didn't recognize... like lots of ducks softly cackling to each other? Nice to have solved that mystery.

Floridacracker said...

Birdsongidentifier.com is one product. I don't know if it's any good, because the sound file took to long to load on my dial-up...

I liked this post...a nice shapshot.
You don't like the wind because it's cold, or just because it's wind?

doubleknot said...

How nice to have a glimpse of spring in Minnesota. Thanks for you lovely post.

Rurality said...

The last of the kinglets are lingering down here for a little longer. They never sing here though. I only know their fussing sound. But luckily it's very distinctive!

I've just started hearing the broad-winged hawks in the past few days.

I can never remember the frog songs either.

Deb said...

Endment-they sure are hard to photograph!

clairesgarden- I think Floridacracker answered your question; for the frogs I did a Google search for frog calls and found a site that was specific to Minnesota: www.pca.state.mn.us/kids/frogsforkids.html

liz- "ducks softly cackling to each other"-you described it better than I could!

FC- yesterday it wasn't that cold, but for some reason wind just tires me out . I did enjoy wind when I used to go windsurfing though!

doubleknot- spring is a very welcome time here!

rurality- I'm not sure if I know what their fussing sound is, but when they sing they make a lot of noise for a little bird! According to the map in Sibley, we're right on the southern edge of their breeding range, which would explain the singing.

clairesgarden said...

Deb, love the frog link, thanks and Floridacracker, that looks like a great but expensive thing! I found this link for British Birds with sounds on it
http://www.northamptonshirewildlife.co.uk/nsgallery.htm